Did your family have a long day at work and school? No doubt you are exhausted and can’t wait for dinner to get on the table so you’ve picked something up on the way home or open a pre-packaged meal to heat up in the microwave. Maybe after dinner everyone will sit down to relax in front of the TV. Or maybe you still have some work to catch up on and need to battle your kids for time with the computer.
Does this sound like a typical weeknight in your home? It is for many families. Like them you may feel that your family could improve in overall health and fitness, but with each day flying by it’s easy to get distracted and simply keep following the same routine over and over.
IS YOUR FAMILY HEALTHY?
It is never going to get easier, so why not take a moment to determine just how healthy your family is. Start by using a BMI calculator (just look for one online) to determine if anyone in your family is overweight.
Is anyone overweight? Examine your eating habits. Does your family eat out or buy fast foods more than once a week? How many sugar filled soft drinks does your family drink in a day? How many meals have fruits or vegetables included and what kind of snacks are they eating on a regular basis?
Since many people who are overweight are not eating too much it is often an indication that they are not ACTIVE enough. How active is your family? Do you drive everywhere? Watch more than 2-4 hours of TV per day? Does anyone engage in fitness or sports programs?
Even if no one is overweight you may correctly feel your family is not FIT. So what can you do?
SMALL CHANGES – BIG DIFFERENCE
You don’t need a major makeover to start increasing your family’s health and well being. Some steps to a healthier lifestyle simply require a bit of forethought and planning.
– Sit down for meals as a family. Eating together without the TV or radio on not only helps you develop an awareness of what and how much everyone is eating, but also builds family bonds with conversation during the meal. Start with at least one meal per week and build to at least one meal per day together.
– Replace soft drinks and other high sugar drinks with milk and water. The amount of sugar (up to 13 teaspoons) in a soft drink is not only calorie filled but sap energy as well. Not having soft drinks or sugar laden fruit punches in the home at all will help everyone develop new habits. Switching to a lower fat milk will also help and is hardly noticeable.
– Reduce TV time AND computer, video games and other sedentary activities. Having other activities such as board games, outdoor play, household chores and organized sports or programs helps children to develop better self-esteem and create bonds with peers and family members.
– Offer healthy alternatives. Setting out a bowl of baby carrots and low fat ranch dressing is as easy as a bowl of chips and dip. Buying a jump rope or bike as a gift is as easy as choosing a new computer game or video. Joining friends for a game of soccer or learning a new dance is as fun as instant messaging or hanging at the mall.
– Start small. It’s better to make a few gradual changes than to expect everyone to stick to a new routine. Making diet and activity changes means you and your children need to plan alternatives or else you will become frustrated and slip back into old habits. Your efforts to set a good example can set your children up for a lifetime of better health!